Tag Archives: Parenting Challenges

Life in Mexico–from the perspective of my 13 year old son

Have you ever wondered what life is like for your children?  As an adult, I’ve come to accept the hardships and limitations of our life here in Mexico, although sometimes not as gracefully as I should.  When I read my son’s guest blog post, I had the opportunity to look at our life through his eyes.  I hope you enjoy his little contribution.

My life

by guest blogger WPFT.

La Yacata

I live in a small neighborhood called La Yacata. It’s called La Yacata because it has a small mountain of stones in the middle of it. There are like 7 families that live there, and we are pretty many neighbors even though we live a mile away from each other. My grandpa and my uncle live up the hill from where we do.  It’s mostly trees and rocks and stuff. The roads are very badly paved. Most of my classmates and most of the people I meet think I live in a cave because we have no electricity. They don’t know how to survive that way. However, our living conditions are ok compared to some people because we are comfortable with the money we have, but we could still get more.

finished front

I’m in the second grade of middle school. I get up very early, at 5:30 am and go to school until 1:40 pm. My grades are pretty good. I like math. I don’t like physics and art. There are 45 kids in my class. I would like if the school had grass on the fields so that it’s more comfortable and easier to play there. (See Why we chose to send our child to public school in Mexico)

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After school is over, I walk to the school where my mom works and play on the computer awhile. I like to play Minecraft, Halo, and Fable. I like to come to the school to play because we don’t have electricity at our house.

At 4:30 pm I go to soccer practice until 6:30 pm. During training, we run and jog. I train as a goalkeeper. The other kids make shots, and I stop them. I play goalkeeper on two teams. The difference between the two teams is that one team is made up of 12- and 13-year-olds and the other team are 15+-year-olds. I play with them even though I’m only 13. The little team is pretty good. We’re in third place on the ranking board.

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After that, I go home to tend to the horses, goats, chickens and cats for about 2 hours. And let’s not forget about our dog Chokis. I give them water and feed them. I take the goats and horses out awhile so they can eat. The horses eat grass. The goats enjoy eating short grass and tree branches. With the goats, sometimes it’s very difficult to take care of them because they run around. There’s not a day that goes by that Chokis doesn’t go with me and the animals. Most of the time I listen to music while I’m out with the animals. I also like to read a book. When I bring them in, first I bring in the goats because if I bring in the horses first, the goats will run away. And then I go back and get the horses. After that, I give them water and feed them for the night. (See Our Family Hobby)

reading

Enjoying a book on Kindle!

Then I read and go to bed, preparing myself for another day. Sometimes I play on my laptop when I take it home. I read with the flashlight in the night. I like to read adventure books. Sometimes I watch a movie on the portable DVD player. I like to watch comedy movies. I used to play on my phone, but now it has a tumor, and I can only see one corner of the screen.  I have no idea when my mom is going to buy me a new one.  I wash my face a lot, and then I go to bed.

movie watching

Watching a movie on my DVD player.

On Saturdays, I go to the school where my mom works and use the computer and listen to music. I do a Portuguese course on DuoLingo and play Minecraft or watch YouTube videos. After that, I do my homework and take out the animals….again.

goalie

On Sundays, I go to wash clothes and then to my soccer game in the mornings. In the afternoons, I read a book and help my mom clean the house.

everybody helps out

A picture of a younger me doing laundry!

Sometimes my life is very boring because I have nothing to do or brothers or sisters to play with. Sometimes my mom is very annoying because she wants me to do boring stuff like write this blog post. My dad is very annoying because he makes me do stuff when I’m doing something else.

My life would be better if we had electricity and a fair amount of money and less animals because sometimes they are just too much for me to handle. Overall, life is medium-good, but it could be better.

See it in video format!

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Some Unconsidered Aspects of Physical Training–Soccer

My husband and I are active but have never considered ourselves athletic. We don’t follow sports on television or attend sporting events. So when our son started showing an interest in soccer, we didn’t take it seriously at first.

Being an only child meant that he was frustrated in his attempts to practice different soccer moves he had seen on youtube. It seemed important to him, so I promised him 15 minutes daily of my time. During those 15 minutes, he would show me how he wanted the ball sent his way, and he would make the concerted effort to block or capture it.

After a few weeks of this, he asked if he could join a soccer team. I told him that if he found a team, he would need to let us know about the costs and training schedule and that we discuss it. Meanwhile, he redoubled his efforts in our “practice.” I happened to go with him and his friend one Saturday to the park, and it changed what I thought about his level of interest in soccer. The boys watched the game and during half-time, used the field while the players rested. Every 30 minutes, they had 5-10 minutes to play. Yes, my son could be on a soccer team if the opportunity presented itself. Any kid that would patiently wait out a game just for a few minutes on the field was serious about playing.

first game

The object of athletics and gymnastics should be kept steadily to the front; enjoyment is good by the way, but is not the end; the end is the preparation of a body, available from crown to toe, for whatever behest ‘the gods’ may lay upon us.–Charlotte Mason

One of his classmates said that his team had an opening and asked my son could go and talk to the coach. Desperate, he asked if he could go. I said yes with the understanding that we would know exactly where he was at all times and that he would get the information about the cost of uniforms, salary for the coach and times for practice. The coached allowed my son to join the team. There were no fees involved. The uniform and socks could be obtained for under 100 pesos in el mercado (market). So much the better.

Training would be Tuesday and Thursday from 4:30 to 6:30. I rearranged my afternoon class schedule so that I could take him to the field. My husband then would pick him up after he finished work. He gave the coach 2 small photos and a copy of his birth certificate so that a credential (identification) could be made. He used his savings to buy a pair of soccer cleats, and he was all ready to go.

His first game was on a Sunday morning. He was nervous–really, really nervous. He also had a bit of a cold. We did our morning chores (See A Day in the Life) and headed to the playing field. Unfortunately, the team played in Uriangato which is quite a distance from La Yacata. A half-mile from the field, we ran out of gas. My husband went for gas, my son went in the direction of the field, and I waited with the car. Of course, being late didn’t help his overall confidence any.

He played in the second half. He was the newbie and all. He didn’t do very well, but his team won the game, so no real harm was done. I waited to see if he wanted to throw in the towel or give it another go. He opted to head to practice on Tuesday.

first goalie game

In all matters physical exercise it is obvious to us that––do a thing a hundred times and it becomes easy, do a thing a thousand times and it becomes mechanical, as easy to do as not.–Charlotte Mason

His real dream was to play goalie. He managed to talk the coach into letting him try out for the position. The coach seemed suitably impressed. After a few weeks, he switched uniforms with the present goalie. His self-esteem was sky-high. Then the coach asked if he would be interested in playing with the juvenile (teenage) team that he coached. My son regretfully declined. But the coach asked again, as did several of the big boy players. We agreed he could play with the understanding that he would only be able to go to practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays like he had been doing–no additional training days. He agreed, and two teams practiced together on those days. Even so, the juvenile team played on Saturdays, so it did add another game day to his schedule.

goalie

He knows that to be cleanly, neat, prompt, orderly, is so much towards making a man of him, and man and hero are in his thought synonymous terms.–Charlotte Mason

With two weekend games, he has had to become more responsible for his uniform. We wash on Sunday mornings (See After Ecstasy the Laundry), but that doesn’t allow enough time for his uniform to dry. So he has now developed the habit of washing his uniform himself right after the Saturday game and hanging it out to dry so that it will be clean and presentable for the Sunday game.

It is inconvenient. The practice and playing fields are quite a distance from our home. It is expensive. My son bought 5 soccer balls in as many weeks, the original uniform, two pairs of cleats, two pairs of gloves, shin guards and then shorts for the new team uniform. We just don’t have the money to spare, so my son has purchased all of the items from his savings. It is time-consuming. We had a pretty full schedule already. There are so many things that just have to be done that there isn’t a lot of time for things that we want to do.

Habits of behaviour; habits of deportment, habits of address, tones of voice, etc., all the habits of a gentleman-like bearing and a kind and courteous manner, fall under this head of self-discipline in bodily habits.--Charlotte Mason

Habits of behaviour; habits of deportment, habits of address, tones of voice, etc., all the habits of a gentleman-like bearing and a kind and courteous manner, fall under this head of self-discipline in bodily habits.–Charlotte Mason

I worry about his safety, in particular with the bigger boys. The players are fairly aggressive, and near-fights happen as players are fouled. I worry when the ball hits his face, or a player kicks him. Then I realized that his team’s whole focus is protecting the goal, which is in essence, protecting my son. My worry eased. I worry when I drop him off for practice. The practice field isn’t exactly in the best neighborhood. Then I realized that I won’t always be able to protect him from the world and that he has quite a bit of common sense that could be relied on. (See Independence vs. Safety) I worried less. I worry about the habits he might pick up when I hear the other players call each other “guey.” Then I realized that he has already learned in which situations such informality is permissible. No worries!

Even with these negatives, as I watch my son play, I know that it is the right thing for him to do. His pre-teen awkwardness becomes grace on the field. He is learning to find joy in success and to handle disappointment with style. He is learning how to become one part of a whole. He is learning to find pleasure in his youth and a well-trained body. Most of all, he is learning balance. There is a time and a place for everything, including sports.

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Parenting Challenges—Almost a man

Little cowboy

My little cowboy

 

Welcome to the May 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Ages and Stages

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have talked about their children’s most rewarding and most challenging developmental periods. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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Deciding the stage of development I have enjoyed the most as my son grows is impossible. Each stage has had its own joys and challenges. Watching my son discover the shadows made by his own hand has been every bit enjoyable as seeing him take his first steps toward adulthood.

This week my son will be 12, which in this part of the world is the end of childhood. In the past year, I have seen him begin to assert his independence. Although some might call it disobedience, we have allowed him to answer us with No and I for one, am content that we have provided a safe enough environment for him to be able to say No and not be afraid of our reactions. Sometimes we have to countermand his No, but we do so with negotiation and not with Because I’m your parent…responses.  Or, at least, that is the idea.  I can’t say we are 100% on this as parents yet.

His need for more independence also means he wants to spend more time with friends and less with us. We tried to allow him to ride his bike from home to school, 2 miles each way so that he could hang out with the guys on the way home but found that my husband and I weren’t up to the stress of waiting and wondering if he was ok. So we looked for other ways to allow him more socialization since his friends don’t come out to La Yacata. We drop him off 30 minutes early for school and pick him up 15 minutes late so that he can squeeze in a quick soccer game with the boys. His buddies are allowed to come to the school I teach at on Saturday and hang out, providing they behave. His friends and their parents love this arrangement since they are able to use a computer or play soccer or basketball in a safe and casually supervised environment. We also set up his own Facebook account so he can chatear (chat), although he has to give me the password. This way, I am able to keep tabs on him in the big, bad cyber world, but he doesn’t mind because I don’t abuse the privilege.

My not so little cowboy

My not so little cowboy

We, as parents, take the time to explain to him why certain restrictions still apply. For instance, the no bike to school is not because we don’t think he is responsible enough, but because his father and I worry since he has to pass the police station to get home. (See on Life and Liberty) He isn’t allowed to go every Saturday to his friend’s house, not because he isn’t old enough, but because after classes we have quite a bit to do at home with our animals and we need him to help out. (See Family Hobby) And so on.

This past year, we also have made sure that he has had opportunities to earn his own money. Sometimes, my husband has a job and he takes my son along as his peon (assistant). During Semana Santa, for example, my husband had a 4-day tile-laying job and my son was delighted with his earnings of $500 pesos. Since he contributes to their care, my son also has his own livestock. He owns Shadow the yeguita (female colt) Duchess the goat and any kids she has. This week, he sold Harry, Duchess’s 4-month-old kid for $600 pesos. Another income source for him.

He has shown himself responsible in his use of his earnings, which means we will continue to provide these income opportunities when we can. With the $500 pesos from the tile job, he bought a bridle, rope and paca (bale) of alfalfa for Shadow. With the $600 pesos from Harry’s sale, he bought a 6-month-old female goat, as yet unnamed, with the idea that now he owns two female goats and thus has potential future earnings. We also opened a savings account for him and over the past year he has been able to save over $1000 pesos, not an easy task by any means.

I see also how our family’s decisions continue to influence him in his independent decisions. With his own money, he is allowed to purchase whatever he wishes, yet he weighs each purchase carefully. When he wants to buy a snack, for example, he doesn’t grab a bag of Doritos and coke, but Sal de Mar chips and a Manzanita (carbonated apple drink) both of which fall into the healthful eating categories we have always encouraged as a family.

Physically, as well, I can see how he is growing up. He is now officially taller than me and has more of a mustache than his dad. His voice has its ups and downs as do his emotions. When we have differences, and we do, we remind him that although he is almost a man, he isn’t quite there. I look forward to watching him grow, as I always have.

 

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • When Three-Year-Olds Stand Up For Themselves — Parenting Expert Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. at her blog, Parental Intelligence, enjoys the stage when three-year-olds dramatically wow their parents with their strong sense of self.
  • This too shall pass — In the beginning, everything seems so overwhelming. Amanda at My Life in a Nutshell looks at the stages of the first 1.5 years of her daughter’s life and explains how nothing is ever static and everything changes – the good and the bad.
  • How much do you explain to your preschooler when crime touches close to home? — When tragedy strikes someone your preschooler knows, Nathalie at Kampuchea Crossings wonders how parents can best help young children cope.
  • Parenting Challenges—Almost a man — Survivor at Surviving Mexico talks about leaving childhood behind as her son turns 12.
  • How Child Development Works — Competence Builds Competences — Debbie at Equipped Family shares how each stage of childhood builds on the next. Focus on doing the current stage reasonably well and success will breed success!
  • Making Space — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is adjusting her thinking and making room for her babies to stay near her.
  • The Best Parenting Resources for Parents of Toddlers — Toddlers can be so challenging. Not only are they learning how to exert their independence, but they simply do not have the developmental ability to be calm and logical when they are frustrated. It’s the nature of the beast. I mean … the toddler. Here are Dionna at Code Name: Mama‘s favorite books and articles about parenting a toddler.
  • The Fab Five Stages so Far — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen couldn’t choose just one stage for this carnival and is sharing her top five favorite stages in the young lives of her son and daughter at Natural Parents Network.
  • The best parts of ages 0-6 — Lauren at Hobo Mama gives a breakdown of what to expect and what to cherish in each year.
  • Lessons from Parenting a Three-Year-Old — Ana and Niko at Panda & Ananaso are quickly approaching the end of an era — toddlerhood. She shares some of her thoughts on the last two years and some tips on parenting through a time rife with change.
  • Feeling Needed — Jorje of Momma Jorje ponders which developmental stage is her favorite and why. She bares it for us, seemingly without fear of judgment. You might be surprised by her answer!

 

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Parenting Challenge–Religious Training

ghandi

This week is Semana Santa, Holy Week, in Mexico. (See Carnival, Lent, Holy Week and Pilgrimages) Allegedly it is the most sacred period for Catholics in the area.  All the pomp and ceremony involved makes it an ideal time to talk about religion with my son.   Therefore, with that in mind…

How Authority Works.––The supreme authority (and all deputed authority) works precisely as does a good and just national government, whose business it is to defend the liberties of the subject at all points, even by checking, repressing, and punishing the licence which interferes with the rights of others …–Charlotte Mason

In a just world, Charlotte Mason’s idea could be easily used to demonstrate God’s role as authority to my son. But we do not live in a just world, so it’s merely hypothetical. So how, as a Christian, do I provide a sense of religion for him?

Charlotte Mason goes on to say that “It is not authority which punishes: the penalties which follow us through life, of which those the family are a faint foretaste, are the inevitable consequences of broken law, whether moral or physical, and from which authority, strong and benign, exists to save us by prevention, and, if needs be, by lesser and corrective penalties” however, we see incident after incident when it is authority which punishes and no law, neither moral or physical, has been broken to merit the punishment. How do I explain that to my son in a religious context? (See On Safety and Security)

I do not make these statements because we live in Mexico, although I can say that injustice is perhaps more visible in our lives here as compared to our lives in the United States. This difference between the ideal and reality exists in all parts of the world, in all social-economic classes, the past, present and future. Where is the God’s mercy to show my son in all this?(See And Justice for All)

Charlotte Mason also talks about the importance of instilling reverent attitudes in our children through the use of “little ceremonies” and again I take issue. She writes “It is a mistake to suppose that the forms of reverence need be tiresome to them. They love little ceremonies, and to be taught to kneel nicely while saying their short prayers would help them to a feeling of reverence in after life.” I have seen my nephews and nieces learn their catechism, make the sign of the cross, beat their little breasts as sinners, kiss the horns of the devil away…and yet…and yet, it is all playacting. There is no reverence there. (See Parenting Challenges–When someone dies)

praying dc

My son has his own Bible, in fact, he has two, one in English and one in Spanish, but I admit it is daunting for him to just pick it up and read it as a book. It isn’t meant to be read like that. Instead, we focus on the stories and read the sections that have to do with that particular characters life. One of our favorite segments thus far in our studies has been the life of Elijah, from the poking fun of Baal, (“Call at the top of your voice, for he is a god, for he must be concerned with a matter, and he has excrement and has to go to the privy. Or maybe he is asleep and ought to wake up!”) and the abasement of the third army chief before Elijah that spared his life and the lives of his men from the lightening bolts of heaven, to the fiery war chariot and horses that brought an end to Elijah’s part of the story. (1 Kings 18:21- 2 Kings 2:25) Between us, we refer to Elijah as the original superhero and totally think there should be a movie made about him.

In this sense, I agree with Charlotte Mason when she encourages the habit of reading the Bible. The habit of hearing, and later, of reading the Bible, is one to establish at an early age. We are met with a difficulty––that the Bible is, in fact, a library containing passages and, indeed, whole books which are not for the edification of children; and many parents fall back upon little collections of texts for morning and evening use. But I doubt the wisdom of this plan. We may believe that the narrative teaching of the Scriptures is far more helpful to children, anyway, than the stimulating moral and spiritual texts picked out for them in little devotional books. None of my nieces and nephews who have taken their First Communion can retell Elijah’s story or any other fascinating Biblical story for that matter. I really don’t know what they learned during their 8-week required course before they become ‘one with God.’

Matthew 21:12-13 “And Jesus entered into the temple and threw out all those selling and buying in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. And he said to them “It is written “My house will be called a house of prayer” but you are making it cave of robbers.

Matthew 21:12-13 “And Jesus entered into the temple and threw out all those selling and buying in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. And he said to them “It is written “My house will be called a house of prayer” but you are making it a cave of robbers.

I recently posted the above on Facebook. My son saw it but didn’t notice that I was the one who had posted it to his page. It struck him as noteworthy enough to comment on it to me later that night. From this, I know that I have inspired what Charlotte Mason calls “The Kingship of Christ” in him. Christ as a historical, even political, figure is understandable to him in a way that being a son of God is not.

Next, perhaps, the idea of Christ their King is fitted to touch springs of conduct and to rouse the enthusiasm of loyalty in children, who have it in them, as we all know, to bestow heroic devotion on that which they find heroic. Perhaps we do not make enough of this principle of hero-worship in human nature in our teaching of religion. We are inclined to make our religious aims subjective rather than objective. We are tempted to look upon Christianity as a ‘scheme of salvation’ designed and carried out for our benefit; whereas the very essence of Christianity is passionate devotion to an altogether adorable Person.–Charlotte Mason

This idea of Christ as a hero brings us around full circle to the problems I mentioned at the onset in teaching religion. A hero, such as Christ exemplified, had the power to change an entire system of things through passive or at times aggressive resistance. A hero does not accept things just because they are but demands that things be as they should be. This I can teach my son.

Matthew 7:12 All things, therefore that you want men to do to you, you also must likewise do to them; this, in fact, is what the Law and the Prophets mean.

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